Land for agriculture plea

1/15/2009 — NST
State governments should allocate more land for agriculture to help the country achieve self-sufficiency in food production by next year.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said at present the ministry could obtain only 1,500ha of land, although it needed 20,000ha more for the permanent food production park project.
“I hope the state governments can reserve more land for food production to ensure that our children have sufficient food in future,” he said here yesterday.
Mustapa said Malaysia was depending on imports for its food supply with most of its fruits and vegetables sourced from China and Thailand.
For example, he said Malaysia imported 32,000 tonnes of chillies worth RM45 million from Thailand and 20,000 tonnes of tomatoes worth RM41 million from China annually.
At present, he said more than 7,000ha nationwide had been allocated for the development of 45 permanent food production parks, which involved 764 agro-entrepreneurs.
Mustapa said 148 participants were now earning more than RM3,000 monthly.
“Our aim is to improve the income of our farmers to RM3,000 monthly and we can achieve this by opening more modern agriculture parks.”
The ministry had also allocated another RM25 million to develop the infrastructure at the Lanchang Modern Agriculture Park.